Waterhole Sit on 90-Degree Day Yields Super Wide Buck

Big Game,White-Tailed Deer


Waterhole Sit on 90-Degree Day Yields Super Wide Buck

Posted 2022-09-27T10:46:00Z

Heath Rayfield scores with a smoke-pole on a 22-inch-wide buck in Kansas

Rack Report Details
Buck:179 7/8 inches
Time of Year:September 12, 2022
Place:Reno County, Kansas
Weapon: CVA muzzleloader  Muzzleloader 

Heath Rayfield's early season buck scored 179 7/8 inches. Image courtesy of Heath Rayfield

Heath Rayfield, co-host of The Woodsman, has long been a serious whitetail hunter. He, along with Cody Nickels of Double Nickel Outfitters, watched a massive whitetail this summer. They didn't have any history with the deer from previous seasons. Still, watching this deer blossom into a huge deer was something to see. Rayfield couldn't get the massive rack out of his mind.

He just showed up mid-summer and was a deer that really struck my interest, Rayfield said. As it got closer to opening day of the Kansas early muzzleloader season, the deer I called Austin — he was wide and reminded me of Texas, so I named him Austin — disappeared for a while.

Naturally, his focus started to shift to trying to find other potential targets, but not completely. A few days before the season, Rayfield and Nickels talked, and they decided to move some cameras around to try to relocate Austin. They did and found him in less than a day.

He was daylighting the first day after moving some cameras, and the plan was in full swing to figure out this deer, Rayfield said. They continued to study trail camera photos, aerial maps of the area, and what wind directions might work best. They settled on a solid plan.

Opening day brought a southwesterly wind. That called for a sit in a tripod stand that overlooked a feeder and watering tank. Austin had been frequenting that area in daylight, and they thought they could intercept him there. Plus, it was very hot, with temperatures soaring into the 90s, and that would provide additional incentive for the buck to visit the watering tank during daylight.

Rayfield eased into position and settled into the tripod stand. Soon after, around early afternoon, does and young bucks started moving. Around 6:45 p.m., three bucks walked out of the tree row to the south. Austin was in the group, bringing up the rear.

Serious scouting efforts were necessary to relocate this buck after it vanished. Image courtesy of Heath Rayfield

Rayfield got his cameras rolling and started filming the group as they walked toward his setup. With the sun scorching, they reached the water tank and begun drinking. Standing 75 yards away, Austin appeared even bigger than Rayfield expected. But he had a problem. He had no shot opportunity.

Once they got to the tank, I realized that the grass between me and the tank was so tall that I didn't have a shot, Rayfield said. I figured they would get some water, maybe hit the feeder, and then head north to a bean field.

He was right. After spending 10-15 minutes at the water tank, they slowly started working toward the beans. Fortunately, he had one small window of opportunity in the grass. Rayfield readied his CVA Paramount and pointed it toward that shooting lane. The buck entered the opening, and Rayfield sent a payload. The crosshairs hit their mark, and I squeezed the trigger, he said. Smoke cleared, and I didn't see anything.

He watched for several minutes, hoping to see a sign the buck was down. Seeing nothing, he called Nickels and told him the news. His friend arrived soon after.

With plenty of light, we went down to see if we hit our mark, Rayfield said. Sure enough, Austin only made it 20 yards. The CVA did its job, and Austin was on the ground. On opening afternoon of the Kansas early muzzleloader season, I was sitting behind the second largest whitetail I have ever shot at.

The deer scored 179 7/8 inches. It sports a 22-inch inside spread and 14 scorable points. They aged the buck at 5 ½ years old.

(Don't Miss: Flip of a Coin Pays off with Mega Opening Day 8-Pointer)

Get your deer hunting gear at the Realtree store.

Watch all the latest video episodes

Latest Products